Instrument responses


After a long, sync problem riddled, but eventually successful implementation of Whole-Play's Ecosystems, I got inspired to review another component of the system, the Instrument Responses. They are quite a similar idea to the Ecosystems, except that they only affect one instrument. So, a response is one specific behaviour of a single instrument. For example, a guitar could be playing chords, or arpeggios, or could be doubling up what the improviser is doing, or playing a crazy solo, or... Each one of these possible behaviours is encapsulated into a Response.

Instrument Responses

The way this works is as follows. Each instrument has its own set of responses (the different things it can do). The Virtual Composer can now instruct the instrument to play this or that Response, without having to specifically tell it which notes to play, one by one. It makes the Composer's job more high level, like: "Guitarist, play some chords. Drummer, give me a funky groove. Bassist, play a syncopated riff". And then each instrument knows how to do that on its own. Since the Composer doesn't have to take care of each note one by one, it can focus on more important things (i.e. the overall flow of the composition).

The key aspect here is that Responses, just like Ecosystems, are also context aware, that is, they can respond to their musical environment, taking into consideration multiple aspects like harmony, rhythm or indicators. In fact they share pretty much the same benefits as the Ecosystems:

  • They can function as building blocks for an instrument part.
  • They are independent. Each Response decides how the instrument will behave, and doesn't depend on any other Responses.
  • They are generic. This means they can be reused and combined freely.
  • They are responsive. A Response is not a fixed pattern: it can work on multiple (any?) contexts.
  • They can respond to Indicators. Therefore they contribute to the organicity of Whole-Play (see the Indicators link to read about that).

Now combine Responses with Ecosystems and Indicators, and things are getting juicy! It's all coming together, and I promise some sound samples soon.


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